Tulsa Trash Board Reluctant To Transfer Money

Wednesday, June 30th 2010, 6:23 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News on 6

TULSA, OK -- A City of Tulsa utility oversight board discussed, but did not approve or deny a transfer of money to the City's general fund. The board decided to schedule a special meeting in July to discuss it further.

The City Council made a budget amendment to move $746,000 out of a reserve fund that is used to stabilize trash rates. The mayor vetoed the council's budget change and the oversight board has not agreed to authorize the transfer.

6/10/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Approves Trash Money Transfer

The Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy (TARE) board has a reserve fund with a balance of $10.3 million. Last year, the board, with some different members, approved transferring money to the City for mowing and graffiti removal. The council ultimately rejected the offer.

Wednesday, four of the TARE board members expressed a reluctance to approve the transfer to shore up city finances, though vice chair Steve Berlin said he would vote to transfer the money. No representative from the City Council was present for the meeting, and neither was Mayor Bartlett, who is a member of the board.

City of Tulsa Public Works Director Charles Hardt said the fund was created from an early 1990's sales tax extension with the intention of stabilizing trash rates. Hardt said last year he approved the transfer, but since he has reconsidered and would not approve it again.

Ken Hill, the Assistant Director of Public Works, told the TARE Board that at the current rate of subsidy for the trash rates, the reserve will be depleted within three years even without the transfer.

While the City Council is considering an override of two of the Mayor's vetoes, they have not scheduled an override vote of the veto for the TARE money. The TARE board's attorney said their action might be unnecessary unless and until the Council overrides that veto.

If the money is ultimately transferred, the Council intends to use $630,000 to add seven additional cycles of mowing for right of way, and the other $116,000 for graffiti removal.